Identifying Barriers to Diabetic Self Management

Identifying Barriers to Diabetic Self Management: If you’ve ever wondered what barriers exist for the proper care of individuals living with diabetes then recent research conducted by scientists from Ireland and Hong Kong might help.

The reason for the development of this study has to do with the prevalence of the disease and the rapid growth of diabetes. The World Health Organization indicates that by 2025 there will be 380 million cases of diabetes. Researches wanted to identify the barriers in an effort to address and eliminate as many of those obstacles as possible.

There were 9,000 patients from 28 countries that participated in the study. Here are some of the highlighted obstacles.

  • Financial – even if healthcare was free or funded by insurance, patients still had to spend more money on healthy food and transport to and from healthcare appointments.
  • Social support – patients who received support from family, friends and diabetes clinics appeared to handle self-care better than those who did not.
  • Patient provider gaps – care was more effective when patients and healthcare providers worked together to devise treatment plans that patients could stick to.
  • Meals out – eating out in restaurants was a frequently mentioned problem and being offered inappropriate food when visiting others was also an issue.
  • Favourite foods – healthcare professionals did not always appreciate that patients disliked being denied their favourite foods and would cope better if they were incorporated into eating plans.
  • Exercise – attitudes toward exercise, physical limitations and discomfort prevented people from taking regular exercise. These need to be taken into account when devising exercise programmes.
  • High risk lifestyles – behavioural and psychiatric disorders and cultural and language barriers, among both patients and family members, can impede effective treatment.
  • Medication – some patients forgot to take their medication and others ran out. Others were reluctant to carry out regular glucose tests.
  • Psychological wellbeing – psychological problems are common among people with diabetes, but healthcare providers do not always have the resources to manage this aspect of their patient’s care.
  • Understanding – patients often lack knowledge about their condition and do not always understand the relevance of diet and care plans.
  • Frustration – Being unable to maintain good glucose control can cause helplessness and frustration, as can the progression of the disease. (Source:

While it may seem that many of these roadblocks to managed care would be common sense there is a strong indication that identifying them can help in the education of newly diagnosed diabetics as well as their health care providers. It may help provide signs family members and friends can look for in their diabetic loved one. Knowledge is always important to the success of any endeavor – including diabetes.

Professor Vivien Coates of the University of Ulster reported, “Our review found that there are various barriers to achieving optimal self-care in type 2 diabetes. Some stem from limitations within the healthcare team, some from ineffective communication between providers and patients and some from the patient’s lack of empowerment, motivation and involvement in their treatment.”

Researchers are also urging health care providers to learn more about the specific needs of their patients by taking into account the following five factors.

  • Physical
  • Psychosocial
  • Cultural
  • Financial
  • Environmental

These factors can contribute to a more holistic approach to care that includes a broad range of conditions affecting the diabetic patient.